Juneteenth recognized at Forks of the Road site

Published 4:57 pm Sunday, June 17, 2007

NATCHEZ —The sound of an African drum collided with the passionate voices of performers at Forks of the Road Saturday.

“Today is a celebration of freedom,” Ser Seshs Ab Heter-Boxley said. “We started this Juneteenth demonstration in 1995 to commemorate the history of our ancestors at Forks of the Road.”

The celebration showcased the acting talents of David Dreyer, Jamal McCullen, Diane Smith, David Williams, Mary Jane Gaudet, and Darrell White.

Email newsletter signup

Each of the local talents portrayed an important person who contributed to the history of how Natchez fit into to Juneteenth.

Boxley introduced the celebration and gave brief historical preambles for each of the performers.

“Thousand of our ancestors played out their history here,” Boxley said. “We are using short version plays to tell our side slavery and freedom at Forks of the Roads.”

Performers were dressed in clothing indicative of the era they represented. Using the art of monologues they bestowed the stories of past Natchez citizens who were involved the fight for freedom.

The characters featured ranged from Isaac Franklin, kingpin enslavement dealer, to John Roy Lynch, who went from slave to congressman in his lifetime. A diversity of performances from both African America and white actors told the story of slavery through eyes of Natchez.

People in attendance applauded and listened closely to what the actors said. During the Juneteenth celebration the crowd continued to grow until it was standing room only.

“This (celebration) is a necessity,” Jembe drum player Prem Vidhna said. “It helps them remember their roots and hopefully they learn something.”